It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Ninh Binh Province was blessed by Mother Nature. The land has it all, from poetic rivers to magnificent mountains, from immense rice fields to mystic caves. However, the most outstanding of all in Ninh Binh must be Cuc Phuong National Park – a nature reserve with an impressive diversity of ecosystems, and irreplaceable cultural and historical values.
Cuc Phuong National Park – A Quick Overview
Founded on July 7, 1962, Cuc Phuong National Park is Vietnam’s first national park. The park is located on the territory of 3 provinces: Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, and Thanh Hoa, with a total area of 22,408 hectares. The park attracts thousands of visitors each year who want to go back to nature and clear their minds.
Cuc Phuong National Park is a valuable bio reserve of Vietnam
Cuc Phuong National Park has a rich biodiversity that is characteristic of tropical rainforests. There are over 2,200 species of plants, many of which are listed in Vietnam’s Red Data Book. Regarding animals, around 122 species of reptiles and amphibians, 2000 species of insects, 135 species of mammals, and 66 species of fish are calling the park home. What’s more, with 336 types of birds, including rare, endemic species of Indochina, Cuc Phuong National Park has long been birdwatchers’ dream destination.
How to Get to Cuc Phuong National Park
Opening hours: 8 AM – 6 PM daily
Ticket: VND 60,000 for adults and VND 10,000 for children
Cuc Phuong National Park has a typical tropical monsoon climate. The average annual temperature is about 25 Celsius degrees.
- From February to May is the best time to visit the park. During this time, the park’s flora and fauna become full of life and vibrant. Especially, at the end of April, thousands of forest butterflies will flock to the park, creating an otherworldly scene.
- You should avoid coming here between November and January (of the next year) because the weather will be cold.
Colorful butterflies in Cuc Phuong National Park
To get to Cuc Phuong National Park, you can go either by bus or private car operated by the park’s management. In case you’re a keen driver, it’s also possible to ride there.
- Time: 2.5 – 3 hours.
- There are buses from Giap Bat Station, Hanoi to Nho Quan – the nearest town to Cuc Phuong National Park. The first bus leaves Hanoi at 8 AM, and the last ride back from the park is at 3 PM. You can purchase tickets at the counter at Giap Bat Station.
- From Nho Quan, call a taxi to Cuc Phuong National Park.
- Time: 2.5 – 3 hours
- Cuc Phuong National Park offers a private car service. To arrange this, you can contact them via email or telephone.
- First, you need to travel to Ninh Binh from Hanoi. There are many reliable motorbike rental places in Hanoi that you can check out.
- If you come to Ninh Binh via the highway, follow the way to Trang An Ancient Capital, ride past Bai Dinh Pagoda, and Dong Chuong Lake.
- If you don’t use the highway, turn right at Gian Khau intersection, onto DT477 street, and pass Nho Quan town.
What to Prepare for a Day Trip to Cuc Phuong National Park
Visiting Cuc Phuong National Park during the dry season will lessen your chances of being bugged by insects
Insects and mosquito repellent: these are always crucial for exploring the woods, especially during the rainy season.
Shoes: you must choose something comfortable for walking for a long time.
Thick and high socks: these are needed to avoid leeches while walking in the woods.
Flashlight: this will be in use when traveling at night or entering a cave.
Essential medications: you should pack along any medication or supplements that you’re taking, and carrying your doctor’s note would be helpful as well.
Water bottle: it’s advisable to bring a big one to refill water if needed.
Binoculars: this is essential for keen birdwatchers and those who want to have a panoramic view of Cuc Phuong National Park.
First-aid kit: since you’ll be walking in the forest, having a first-aid kit on hand to handle small injuries will be great.
Read more on Tips for Packing for Vietnam.
Highlights of Cuc Phuong National Park
If you want an extremely off-the-beaten-path experience, how about leaving behind posh hotels and blend in with nature through camping? The most ideal place to camp in Cuc Phuong National Park is Xom Bong. The place is clean, cool, and will be free if you don’t camp overnight.
Trekking in the Forest
Trekking is a must-do activity when visiting Cuc Phuong National Park
There are several excellent hiking opportunities in the park. You could explore some by yourselves with basic maps provided by the park’s staff. However, there are longer, guided tours which will give you more information about the park’s flora and fauna. The most popular trails are Ngoc Son Nature Reserve, Pu Luong Nature Reserve, overnight treks, and camping trips.
You’ll get to experience the Muong people’s authentic way of life
Nature isn’t all there is to Cuc Phuong National Park. Visiting the park, you’ll get the chance to immerse yourself in the culture of the Muong minority people. Trek to the Muong village of Khanh or the villages in Ngoc Son Nature Reserve or Pu Luong Nature Reserve and get yourself a night living like the Muong people in their traditional stilt house. During the day, you may even get a chance to try bamboo river rafting and enjoy musical performances by the Muong youths.
This is one of the most look-forward-to activities organized by the park. Depending on the weather conditions, you may get the chance to see exotic animals such as the Black Giant Squirrel, the Indian Flying Squirrel, Samba Deer, Loris, and several small carnivores.
Keen bird watchers will find themselves not wanting to leave Cuc Phuong National Park
With 336 different species of birds, Cuc Phuong National Park is a hotspot for birdwatchers. The most ideal times to observe these magical creatures are in the early morning or the late afternoon. Bringing binoculars and staying overnight here would be necessary for this activity.
Cycling – Kayaking
See Cuc Phuong National Park in a new light through these two beloved activities – cycling and kayaking. While cycling gives you ample opportunity to relax, rewind, and take a hard look at the animals living in the park, kayaking on Mac River or Yen Quang Lake is a fun sport to try out with friends and family.
Our Thoughts on Cuc Phuong National Park
Blessed with such a beautiful natural landscape, Cuc Phuong National Park is the best place to explore the rich flora and fauna of Vietnam, treat yourself to an exotic adventure, and to immerse in a thorough learning experience. It is a unique kind of day trip from Hanoi that can quickly get you out of the hustle and bustle of city life and into the mysterious world of Mother Nature.